The Wedding Planner: Size matters

It doesn't matter if you have a mega-event or an intimate gathering of close family and friends; what's important is how you plan it.

July 16, 2013 13:50
Big wedding celebration

Big wedding celebration. (photo credit: Courtesy)

When I got married I told my mother I only wanted to have people at my wedding who wouldn't say such things as "look how much you've grown," meaning I didn’t want any guests who hadn’t seen me for a while.

A long time has passed since then and still I witness a lot of stressful moments when my clients are working on their wedding lists and have to decide whether to have a big or small wedding.

Set a 'ballpark figure' 

The guest list is pretty much the first step of the wedding planning process. The number of people will affect the venue and the budget. I ask my clients before our first meeting to do "their homework" and come with a "ballpark figure" combining the lists of parents of both sides and their own list. The first "ballpark figure" is usually what they end up with in the end.

Big wedding 

You don’t have to be William and Kate in order to have a big wedding. Some people have big families, others have business obligations and some people have a lot of friends.

Having a big wedding with over 500 guests usually restricts you to big wedding venues, and there aren't so many of those around. If you have a large budget it's possible to hold the wedding at an alternative location such as a golf course, vineyard, agro farm, hangar, deserted quarry or even in the desert. In all cases it is important to have a spacious venue in order that you will feel comfortable.

Other than the budget, big weddings usually come with a mixed crowd who may not necessarily be familiar with one another, have little connection to the bride and groom or see it more as a social obligation rather than a joyful happening.

In order to give this crowd a "good time" you have to have fewer intimate moments and invest more in the content, so that it will become a "dinner party and show" event rather than including lots of speeches. One of the huge advantages of a big wedding is a crowded dance floor filled with happy, dancing, mingling guests.

If you want to go the extra mile you can introduce them to yourselves and your family by creating a family tree or have photos of the wedding family members displayed.

The mathematics of hosting 

It takes approximately one minute to say a quick "hello" and have some small talk. Let's say you have 800 guests, you talk with couples only and your share of the guests is 33 percent; it will still take you two hours and 12 minutes just to say the minimum and that is if all other parties take their fair share.

It also takes considerable logistic planning to host 800 guests. Make sure you have enough service personnel and that the caterer is capable of handling such amounts. You don’t want to have people lining up with their plates in their hands for a long time in the case of a buffet, or drying out at their tables in case of a served dinner. You also need to plan an extremely large bar, or alternatively divide it to two or three bars. No one should be hindered of service due to a large crowd.

If you are obliged or choose to have a big wedding make sure you can handle the stress of being at the center of the attention of so many people and enjoy it. There are really only a few occasions in your life that are such profound causes for celebration and connection. Take advantage of the opportunity to have the party of a lifetime and celebrate in style. 

Mini or Small weddings

One of the most intimate weddings I threw had 50 guests of close family members and friends. It was a Friday noon wedding and held in the mother of the groom's back yard in a countryside Moshav.

When you hand pick your guests and have only loved ones, you can have everything you please. You have more freedom to customize your wedding to your own tastes, starting with the menu, which can be less "all flavors" and more of your own likes and wishes. Moreover, you actually know if there are any food restrictions for any of your guests. 

You also have more freedom as to when you can sing, dance and do everything else you may wish to do. No one will judge you – they will simply cherish those precious moments they are sharing with you. Having such a cozy event gives plenty of room for your guests to be involved and share some of their own personal touches. 

If you feel uncomfortable having a mini wedding at your own "home base" you may consider having a destination wedding .

Decided on going midi – and need to cut wedding list short 

When you are making wedding cuts start by double checking your lists to make sure you don’t have overlaps and then ask yourself these important questions about each one of the invitees: 

When was the last time you spoke to them? 

How often do you see them? 

Would you be offended if you weren’t invited to their wedding? 

Will they be a part of your lives forever? 

The answers you get will bring you to your conclusion fast. Throughout the process, remember to be practical, considerate, respectful and sensitive (especially when it comes to parents’ lists).

What to do if you don’t want it big but still have so many guests? 

In the Jewish tradition we are given the perfect solution of Sheva Brachot (seven days of feast after the wedding). Imagine having a mini-midi wedding with your closest circles and then having the opportunity to celebrate seven more nights with different crowds (parents’ friends / business associates / University buddies etc ). Think of it is an everlasting wedding. 

Or do what I had for my wedding: Have 100-150 guests at the main wedding event and then have some more events afterwards such as a party for friends in a nightclub if you couldn’t invite all of the young crowd or a Saturday-Sunday brunch / picnic if you didn't manage to fit in all your social obligations to work associates. You even have the option of making these events days apart so you have the opportunity of sharing your wedding photos with your guests – so they will be a part of it too.

P.S you can always elope.

Big or small wedding - Israeli terms:
Small Wedding – 50-150 guests 
Medium size wedding - 200-400 guests 
Big Wedding – 500 – 1200 guests

Osnat Eldar is the owner of SIGNATURE EVENTS boutique which specializes in weddings and special events. With over 18 years of experience she brings you interesting insights when coming to plan your dream event in Israel.

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